Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

Sleepovers, now a bad idea

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Yemisi Olusina

“Our younger daughter got raped by her best friend’s father when she was 12 years old. We thought we knew the family well, but we were very wrong. My husband was out of town and I had to be in the office for a night shift as a nurse. Her other siblings were in the universities and I just did not feel good bringing her along with me to the hospital, especially when she had to be in school for the three days that I would be on night. I also put up with a friend close to the office to save myself the stress of going and coming, as my office is on the Island. We lived in a bungalow and had no tenant. So, she couldn’t have stayed alone.

“I asked her to stay with her friend’s family. This unfortunately turned out as a nightmare for her and our family.

“His friend’s mother unknown to us was not around for those days and she was sexually abused throughout her stay. To keep his evil act secret, he told her he would kill us and her if she told us. Of course, she did not tell us until we packed away from the area, two years after. She is grown up now and can tell her story because she is a child of God but I feel betrayed. I feel ashamed, guilty and failed as a mother.

“After her return from her friend’s place, she appeared sick and withdrawn but we only treated her for malaria. I never suspected anything but that she was withdrawn.

“Looking back now, I still believe it was all my error and I will probably live with the regret for the rest of my life.”

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That was an account of 48-year-old Mrs. Ruth Biode at a ‘mum and daughter’ event organised by House of David Ministries, in Agbole area of Ogun State.

Sleepovers are supposed to be the perfect way for kids to catch fun with their friends. It is a time when they engage in all kinds of games, gists and watch movies together and go to sleep. It sounds like the ideal night of fun and bonding, but more often than not, sleepovers, stayovers just end up being the stuff of nightmares.

There are more horrifying stories than above these days that one can hardly even trust a relative. With pedophiles and several other mentally unstable adults on the prowl, common sense says parents should be careful who they keep their children with. But if you still think sleepovers are not a bad idea, as it is presented, these are reasons child psychologists say caution should be applied:

  1. People are no longer as responsible as you think

Never think you know the parents of your child’s friend? Even if you can answer a lot of personal questions about them, it may not be enough. This isn’t a matter of distrust, it’s a matter of keeping your children safe. Of course, you can still maintain friendships and relationships with them, but the best place for your children to sleep at night is at home, in their own beds. Whether or not your friends and neighbours are good or bad people isn’t the question – it’s a matter of keeping your children away from potentially bad situations.

  1. Midnights can be dangerous.

You will agree with the fact that some of the wildest ideas come to mind at certain hours of the night. And for pranksters, it is the ideal time  to break a few rules. Even with a good amount of parental supervision, kids have a way of keeping secrets and sneaking around. Bringing children together for a long night to sleep in the same room together can bring about potentially negative things – things you may not want your child to be exposed to. If you prevent your children from having sleep or stayovers, you sure will prevent  unnecessary things from happening.

  1. Very little sleep actually happens

The fact that the word “sleep” is in “sleepover” doesn’t mean anybody is actually sleeping. Some kids try to pull all-nighters and even when they try to sleep, they can’t. Being in an unfamiliar home in an unfamiliar bed does not allow for a restful night. Children need quality sleep. Sleepovers don’t allow them that.

  1. Social media only makes sleepovers worse

Social media combined with a sleepover has the potential to make other children victims of cyberbullying or feel left out for not being invited. With cellphones and other social media gadgets around, children are open to all its negativities, especially when away from the guiding eyes of their parents.

  1. The morning after can be uncomfortable

Waking up in an unfamiliar environment can be discomforting to the child. What is worse is waking up before everyone else and not knowing if you should get up and go to the bathroom or not. It’s one of the most awkward things to go through. While it may seem like a little thing, this can actually be emotionally stressful for your child.

“Of course, there are special circumstances where children may need to stay at a friend’s, neighbour’s or relative’s home for the night. In that case, it’s up to you as a parent to make that decision,” says Mrs. Eunice Subomi, a child psychologist.

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As parents, it is up to you to ultimately decide what is best for your children. You may decide to let your children have sleepovers with certain rules. This is completely okay. Other parents may choose to allow their kids have “late-nights” or “late-overs”.

To save your kids from the pains of these perilious times, it is important that you keep your children under your close watch. If the group your child has to stay with is having breakfast early in the morning, let him or her come back home for the night. This way, your child sleeps in a much safer environment while still participating in activities.

For the umpteenth time, sleepovers are generally not advisable these days. If your child must spend days with anyone, ensure to be with them. Beyond sexual harassment, bullying and other psychological side effects, your child also faces the risk of untimely death should the host decide to use her for rituals.

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